Candidates to replace George Santos in Congress discuss migrant crisis on campaign trail

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Thursday, January 25, 2024
Race for Santos' vacant House seat heats up
Kemberly Richardson has the story.

QUEENS VILLAGE, Queens (WABC) -- The candidates looking to replace expelled Congressman George Santos hit the campaign trail on Thursday.

Republican candidate Mazi Pilip called out her opponent, former Congressman Tom Suozzi, a Democrat, for what she says is his open border policy when it comes to migrants.

Pilip, an immigrant from Israel, and Congressman Anthony D'Esposito say the way Democrats are handling the migrant crisis is having a negative impact on communities through New York City and the neighborhoods surrounding the Creedmoor Psychiatric Facility.

"Look around me, that playground used to be full of young kids playing here, now parents tell me they are afraid to bring their children here -- why? Because just across the street in the back, a massive tent city was built to house 1,000 migrants," Pilip said.

So far in the campaign, Pilip is known better for what she doesn't say than what she does -- including everything from government funding to why she has only committed to one debate with her challenger Suozzi.

"I have been available to the press every time when I got the request and I am happy to speak and I have a debate coming Feb 8th...only one," Pilip said. "When they announced my name it was only six weeks ago, it's a short time to meet people, engage myself to be available for press and do a debate."

After Pilip's event on Thursday, her opponent arrived.

"In this post-age of George Santos, I don't know how anybody can think they can run for U.S. Congress for the 3rd Congressional district and not be transparent with the people, not make themselves completely available in every single way," Suozzi said.

Suozzi also blamed Republicans with trying to mislead the public about a complicated situation.

He said people care about the issue and want to solve it.

"They're focused on this issue, they want the problem solved, they're sick of the finger-pointing, also they want to get a deal on Ukraine, and on Israel, so this is the best opportunity to make a deal in 35 years, but President Trump said 'I don't want you to make a deal with the border because it would give a victory to Biden and I couldn't use it as a political issue,'" Suozzi said.

Many think the back and forth is a moot point as the race is falling along party lines with redistricting playing a key role.

The Bronx, which is heavily Democrat, is no longer included -- but Levittown and Massapequa, both Republican strongholds, are included.

The special election is set for Feb. 13.

RELATED | George Santos: The Man, the Myths, the Lessons | Full Special

"George Santos: The Man, The Myths, The Lessons," an ABC7 New York Eyewitness News investigation, explores the rise of the politician whose path to Congress was paved with lies.


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